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Extended Audio Sample FDR and the Jews, by Allan J. Lichtman, Richard Breitman Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Allan J. Lichtman, Richard Breitman Narrator: Todd McLaren Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Nearly seventy-five years after World War II, a contentious debate lingers over whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned his back on the Jews of Hitler’s Europe. Defenders claim that FDR saved millions of potential victims by defeating Nazi Germany. Others revile him as morally indifferent and indict him for keeping America’s gates closed to Jewish refugees and failing to bomb Auschwitz’s gas chambers.

In an extensive examination of this impassioned debate, Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman find that the president was neither savior nor bystander. In FDR and the Jews, they draw upon many new primary sources to offer an intriguing portrait of a consummate politician—compassionate but also pragmatic—struggling with opposing priorities under perilous conditions. For most of his presidency Roosevelt indeed did little to aid the imperiled Jews of Europe. He put domestic policy priorities ahead of helping Jews and deferred to others’ fears of an anti-Semitic backlash. Yet he also acted decisively at times to rescue Jews, often withstanding contrary pressures from his advisers and the American public. Even Jewish citizens who petitioned the president could not agree on how best to aid their co-religionists abroad.

Though his actions may seem inadequate in retrospect, the authors bring to light a concerned leader whose efforts on behalf of Jews were far greater than those of any other world figure. His moral position was tempered by the political realities of depression and war, a conflict all too familiar to American politicians in the twenty-first century.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Sadly, Roosevelt left behind a rather thin paper trail. He didn’t write a memoir or record many White House conversations, and he refused to allow note-taking at his personal meetings. To fill this gap, Breitman and Lichtman have combed the archives of the leading players who did write down their thoughts and recollections, and the result is quite impressive. Even those who disagree with the book’s conclusions must acknowledge the mountain of research on which they rest…The authors rightly note the squeamishness of America’s modern presidents in dealing with genocide…Historically speaking, Roosevelt comes off rather well…[An] eminently sensible book.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “At long last, two historians have sought to provide an analysis of Roosevelt’s stance on the ‘Jewish question’ that avoids the tempting urge to judge the past through the lenses of the present…In short, FDR and the Jews is a narrative that resists the temptations of artificial drama and a work of scholarship that avoids facile categorization.”

    Washington Post

  • “While this incisively written study is unlikely to sway anyone whose mind is already made up, readers without fixed views will find plenty to ponder. And it will remind everyone not only of the enormity of the Holocaust but…the ultimate limitations of the presidency, no matter who holds the office.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “This splendid book should banish forever the notion that Franklin Roosevelt was a blinkered anti-Semite who made little effort to stop the Holocaust. With dazzling research and astute judgments, Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman portray FDR as a cunning politician who, in the dreadful context of his times, did more to aid Jews than any other leader in the United States or abroad.”

    Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation

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About the Author

Richard Breitman is distinguished professor in the Department of History at American University.